Ah Fall! It’s so close i can almost feel those crisp mornings, hear the crunch of the leaves, and taste those iconic Fall flavors. While most food blogs are going to hit you repeatedly over the head with pumpkin and apples I am going to highlight the not so obvious Fall produce. Starting with broccoli rabe or also referred to as rapini. This orecchiette with broccoli rabe pasta is a little more involved that some of my other pasta dishes (still easy!) however it’s worth the extra few minutes of prep. If you aren’t a fan of this bitter green yet, trust me this pasta may just do the trick.
It’s not you, broccoli rabe is bitter. Not bitter in a bad way, but bitter in a “ooo what is this flavor i need to keep eating” kind of way. I admit, the first time i had broccoli rabe I thought it was cooked wrong. How could someone like something so bitter! It took some time and the right dishes to truly love the flavor of broccoli rabe. Years later I have 3 recipes in the line up to highlight this bitter green.
If you are wondering how you can reduce the bitterness of broccoli rabe there are a few ways to mellow out the flavor. Blanching and broiling are two cooking methods that can reduce the green’s bitterness. Also cooking it with lemon or adding it to a cream based dish has also been proven effective. Will it get rid of all the bitterness? No. Are any of these methods used in this dish? No, this dish celebrates the bitter flavor of broccoli rabe. However I find that with the addition of slightly bitter and earthy brussels sprouts, the umami flavor of anchovies, and a shit ton of cheese rounds out the flavor.
Uh, please don’t. I mean you can do anything you want, and broccoli would fit right into this dish, but let’s be honest broccoli goes with anything.
Start by picking a dark green bunch with a good amount of florets, avoid any bunch that is wilted or yellowing. The bunches at the story can vary significantly. For this orecchiette with broccoli rabe pasta dish cut of the bottom steam, about 1-2 inches from the base. Discard them. This dish focuses on the florets and steams so remove any larger leaves but don’t throw them out! I have a pesto coming this week that will use them. Rough chop the rest until you have 2 1/2 cups worth.
Make the Base – In a pan over low-medium heat add the olive oil. Once heated up add the chili flakes and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until soft and fragrant but not brown. Add the minced anchovies and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
Add the Greens + Finish – Add the broccoli rabe and shaved Brussels sprouts with a pinch of salt. Cook for 5-6 minutes until soft but still have their vibrant green color. You still want some body left to these greens, so try to not overcook them. Add the pasta, and toss. Finish off with grated pecorino, a drizzle of EVOO.
Optional Crispy Prosciutto – If opting to sprinkle crispy prosciutto do this step first. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. On a parchment lined sheet tray lay the prosciutto down in a single layer. bake for 10 minutes until it is a deep red color. Let the cooked prosciutto cool for 5-10 minutes before breaking.
This delicious Fall pasta dish can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days in an airtight container. When ready to heat, pop the leftovers in a pan with a few tbsp of residual pasta water, if you aren’t freezing and saving you need to. You can also use the microwave to heat this dish up, but I am not going to lie it’s also a fabulous one to eat cold right out of the Tupperware.
Lover of all things broccoli rabe? Check out my Broccoli Rabe Pesto.